Israeli munitions company to open firearms plant in the Philippines

A leading Israeli weapons manufacturer is set to open up a manufacturing plant in the Philippines to produce firearms and ammunition.

Silver Shadow Advanced Security Systems Ltd. (SSASS) was reported by the Philippine News Agency to have signed a memorandum of understanding with Rayo Illuminar Corp. (RIC) to open the factory that would be operational by next year.

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The two companies are said to be looking at Limay in the Baatan province as a potential location of the plant.

According to news agency, SSASS “committed to infuse an initial investment of $50 million” and that the Israeli company also committed to train and employ at least 160 personnel.

The two companies are said to have been conducting negotiations prior to Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to Israel in August when the letter of intent between the two companies was signed.

Israel and the Philippines maintain close security ties, with Israel selling a large amount of weaponry to the Philippine army over the years. With tensions rising in the South China Sea over the Spratly Islands – an archipelago disputed by the Philippines, Malaysia, China and Vietnam, the overall flow of arms to the region has spiked.

, more than 20 agreements worth nearly $83 million were signed. The Philippine News Agency reported that 14 memoranda of agreement and understanding were signed, as well as eight letters of intent from Israeli firms interested in investing in the East Asian country.

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“These agreements are a clear indication of the enormous business and investment opportunities in the Philippines available to Israelis,” Philippine Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez was quoted as saying. “The Philippines is committed to pursue several growth opportunities by strengthening partnerships with emerging economic partners like Israel. Our engagement with them allows us to reinvigorate ties and increase trade between our countries.”

Duterte has said in the past that he sees Israel as an alternative supplier of weapons. During his visit he told President Reuven Rivlin that he intends to buy military equipment exclusively from Israel because of the country’s lack of restrictions. The United States and other countries have refused to sell Duterte arms because of record of  human rights violations.

The Philippines has cracked down on drug dealers and users, with Duterte launching a controversial “war” on the narcotics trade which according to international human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, has killed over 12,000 people.

According to Israel’s Hadashot News, Israel pulled out of a deal to expand police cooperation after the Justice Ministry raised objections over Duterte’s deadly crackdown on drug users. The report stated that the justice ministry had removed so many clauses from the agreement that it “became clear that there was nothing really left to sign.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon was quoted as saying “the agreement was not ready to be signed.”

In January the city of General Santos on the island of Mindanao gave 15 Israeli-made Tavor X95 assault rifle to the city police’s SWAT team.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera was quoted by Philippine News Agency as saying that the city acquired the rifles at a cost of 3 million Philippine pesos ($55,483.50) to assist the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) “efforts to improve the logistical capability and operations of local police units.”

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